Sunday, 3 April 2011

Professional Seminar for Diplomats Gets Underway In China

The Assistant Minister for Public Affairs and two other personnel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are in Beijing, People’s Republic of China (PRC) attending a “Professional Seminar for Diplomats from English-speaking African Countries”. Mr. J. Wesley Washington, Mulbah Kawoi and Sharon Gorma Shamoyan will be in China until May 24th 2011.

The “Seminar for African Diplomats”, taking place at the China Foreign Affairs University, is providing 36 diplomats from 13 African countries a better understanding about modern China, and is enhancing their diplomatic knowledge so as to better +engage in foreign affairs in the future. 

The Program also provides the participants with a better insight of the national conditions and policies of contemporary China, its history and culture, economy, political system, and its relations with African countries. Participants are to benefit from advanced studies on Foreign Affairs and International Relations, including Research on International Affairs, the United Nations, International Economy, and International Law, among others.

Addressing the opening ceremony at the University’s International Exchange Center on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, the Vice President of the China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU), Professor Heng Xiaojun re-emphasized that the purpose of the program is to promote mutual understanding between China and Africa. He noted that though the world is changing as we’re in a period of globalization, face-to-face interaction is very important to enhance mutual understand and cooperation.

The Head of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ African Department, Counselor Wang Shiting, for his part, said though China-African relations have witnessed rapid development, there are still debates over the nature of these relations.

He did admit that Africa is important to China. “Africa has always been a top priority of China’s foreign policy agenda because there is not only the common interest but most importantly there is a shared emotional bondage between China and Africa that spans over centuries,” Mr. Wang said noting that it begins from both shared miserable past and mutual assistance in fighting for freedom and independence.

The Chinese diplomat emphasized that Chinese assistance to Africa is sincere. He said that for decades his country’s cooperation and assistance to Africa have placed emphasis on the development of infrastructure, agriculture, education, and health care because these are the needs of the African people.“We have built 3,300 kilometers of road and 2,200 kilometers of railways. Besides this, we have also built 2,000 industrial processing projects where the African people enjoy comparative advantage for export - a potential job creation,” he said.

The Chinese diplomat, who has served over 20 years in Africa, said that the ultimate goal of China’s assistance to Africa is to build its capacity so as to develop on their own as the Chinese Government has always stressed on technology transfer in their assistance to Africa. He reiterated that China is always willing to share their experiences with Africa.  He said that though China has made tremendous improvements in the past few decades, they will never force their model on anyone, but rather to share experiences with Africa.

He argued that China always respects the choices made by Africans as the development of Africa should be based on its own conditions, follow it own path to develop its own model - the African Model. “We are not teachers, we are friends,” he said, adding that the way to get Africa on board is not to force them; rather China should find a way with Africa through consultation as the African theory is up to the African people.

While in Beijing, participants will visit sections of government organs, the Olympic Stadium, the Great Wall, the Palace Museum, the Temple of Heaven appreciate the Beijing Opra, and Martial Arts. They will also visit Shanxi and Zhejiang provinces while in China.

Participants are from Lesotho, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Sirleaf Gets Hero’s Welcome In Harper

Hundreds of residents of Maryland County turning out in record numbers since the arrival, in Harper, of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and delegation on Tuesday, March 29, on the first leg of a week-long tour of southeastern Liberia. In a welcome statement at Harper City Hall upon her arrival, County Superintendent J. Gbleh-bo Brown said the people of Maryland were excited to receive the President, describing her visit as the renewal of a bond of friendship between the President and the people of the County.

Earlier, President Johnson Sirleaf toured and dedicated several projects, including the newly rehabilitated Alexander Tubman Airstrip, a warehouse at the Port of Harper, and an office of the Liberia National Fire Service. The President also inspected communication facilities of the Roberts Flight Information Region which, when completed, will provide air navigation services for the region.

On a tour, later, of the William V.S. Tubman University, the Liberian leader broke ground for a rubber technology institute – an initiative of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and the University.  The institute is supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and funded by the Government of Japan.

According to an Executive Mansion dispatch, the President also dedicated two newly renovated infrastructures on the Tubman University campus – a housing facility for instructors, known as the Elizabeth Tubman Hall; and an academic complex – both of which were renovated with support from the Government of Morocco.

“I am happy to see students here at Tubman University, a place that has been dead for a long time,” a very impressed President Johnson Sirleaf said at the dedication. The President expressed particular pride that the institution is focusing on new areas of academic pursuit. She said Government will work with Tubman University to ensure that the areas are improved. The University has signed a Letter of Intent with authorities of Grand Cavalla Township for the introduction of an Integrated Village program.

“What we have done is to work together and make our village move forward.  We want to work with you to help educate our children,” the President of the University, Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell, said during the signing ceremony in Cavalla Township, which was witnessed by the President, Ministry of Internal Affairs and County authorities, as well as members of the Maryland Legislative Caucus.

Meanwhile, a Memorial Service was held at the Mount Scout United Methodist Church, in Harper, for shipwreck victims from the County. Relatives and friends wept as survivors recounted details of the incident in which several residents, including mothers and children, lost their lives. The victims thanked the President and Government for the interventions, at various levels, following the tragedy, and appealed for the President’s intervention to save their properties.  “Some of us took loans from ECOBANK for our businesses. The Bank has our title deeds.  We have no means of paying back the loans because all the goods bought from the loan were lost in the tragedy,” a survivor, Nathaniel Nyemah, told the President.  ECOBANK had provided loans totaling L$3 million to the local businessmen and women. The President has promised to settle the matter with the Bank and have the title deeds returned to their owners.

The Liberian leader again extended condolences to the bereaved families and expressed regret for the losses. “We cannot compensate you for lives lost, we can only pray that God consoles you and your relatives and pray that your loved ones rest in peace,” the President said.  

“I had to come to see you, to be with you, to share your pain and to let you know that we feel deeply your pains,” the President stated. She informed the survivors and relatives that the Government is working with insurers of one of the wrecked vessels to compensate the victims.  The President said a committee is being established to work out the details regarding compensation for victims who are not covered under insurance benefits.

On Wednesday, March 30, the President, met with victims of the shipwreck at a special meeting and reassured them of Government’s support. She then turned over US$2,000 contributed to families of the victims by Marylanders residing in the United States. The President said the ongoing rehabilitation of roads in the County would help to reduce travel risks.

Also on Wednesday, President Johnson Sirleaf arrived in Pleebo and Karluway to a rousing welcome by residents of the areas. Speaking in Karluway, at the dedication of the Tugbaken Public School, the President said the project is a testimony of Government’s determination to provide more educational opportunities for the youth of the country.  With Education Minister Othello Gongar at her side, the President urged parents to take advantage of the opportunities being offered by Government by sending their children to school.

The President later toured the border towns of Cavalla and Kablaken, where she dedicated a Bureau of Immigration Post before returning to Harper for a musical extravaganza and an official dinner, hosted by the people of Maryland County. During the event, several statements of support were presented to the President in appreciation for the level of development in the County.  Statements were made by representatives of chiefs, students of Tubman University, the business community, the Maryland Motor Cyclist Union, the Muslim Women of Maryland County, and a youth group known as “Friends of Ellen.”

The President left Harper Thursday morning, en route to Grand Kru County. Before departing Maryland, the Liberian leader held a Town Hall Meeting in Pleebo to discuss issues affecting the people of the district.


House Summersaults

Passes US$24MBudget After Initially Tying Passage To Performance Report   
Tom B Nyenur,Staff Writer; 06-695-965

Barley three days after the House of Representatives denied approval of the supplementary budget submitted by the Executive Branch, report says the body has reneged on their words by unanimously endorsing it.
Legislative experts said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf forwarded the proposed US$24M last week in an attempt to address a number of rising necessities ahead of July, suppose to mark the end of each fiscal year.
Among the urgencies, the president’s communication cited the need for the containment of security and humanitarian problems at Liberia’s borders with Ivory Coast, as well as the ensuing national referendum.
According to the communication, the budget also seeking to support the ensuing presidential and general elections is in line with Part III section 18 of the 2009 Public Financial Management Act.
The proposed supplementary budget, the President’s communication argued will be derived by way of funding through short term borrowing from the Central bank of Liberia against grants and revenues budgeted to be collected in 2010/2011.
 A breakdown of the appropriations show 28.4 percent of the budget, amounting to US$6,812,465.00 will cover domestic and external obligations including pension and severance payments; domestic, external and foreign obligations; while 17.2 percent or US$4,109,860.00 will be used on infrastructure.
Other allocations include US$9,907,722.00 including preparations for 2011 independence day celebrations among others.
Despite the president’s appeal calling on the legislature to treat the issue with urgency based on priorities contained thereof, the lawmakers last Tuesday argued they would not delve into the matter until the presidency submits a performance report for the 2009/2010.
The unanimous decision not to pass on the budget grew out of a communication from Representative Kuku Dorbor.
Representative Dorbor called on the body not to delve into the issue until such report, saying the call was in line with law and rule of the house.
Now the representatives say they have resolved to reverse the action based on a motion of reconsideration in line with legislative practice.


First Place Battle

UP Gov’t, Politicizes Togba Mulbah’s Trial to oust him at Polls?
 David B. Kolleh,, (231 631 0032)

  As the trial of  the Deputy Speaker of the 52nd National Legislature Togba Mulbah  proceeds at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, party officials of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and some Politicians of the opposition block are terming the trial of the Deputy Speaker as being more political than legal. 
Reports from Bong County say, Deputy Speaker Mulbah is a victim of an intense political struggle between the ruling Party and the Congress for Democratic Change in Bong County. UP already has  one of its partisans within Mulbah’s District prepearing to oust him at this year’s polls, allegadly using his ongoing trial as a stage.
The Deputy Speaker of the National Legislature was taken to court by the state on charges of attempted murder, after he allegadly ordered the beating of a Police Officer Lexington Beh, following a controversial truck seizure issue between his men and the Police officer more than five months ago.
Though, the Deputy Speaker has been criticized by people from the public for telling security men assigned  to him to beat the officer, he maintains the men did were acting on their own.
Mr. Acarous Gray, Secretary Genaral of the Congress for Democtartic Change (CDC) told Journalists more than two weeks ago that their partisan’s involvement into the Police officer’s beating saga was given so much attention by government because, he was from the opposition block, and it was intended to reduce his chances for reelection in  Bong County.
The CDC Secretary General said his party was not against the Deputy Speaker going to court but said the party is keen in insuring that their partisan gets a fair trial.
CDC Wants Fair Trail
 “We want a fair trial and justice in this matter because the current regime (government) is engaging in witch-hunting and selective justice for those it perceives as strong opponents or hard-core politicians refusing to join the ruling party for which Liberia can become a one party state again,” Mr. Gray stated in a strong tone.

He noted that there were some public officials of the Sirleaf Administration who committed heinous crimes, but the government did not only refuse, but deliberately ignored their arrest and trial for justice.

Political Trail 
In 2006, according to Mr. Gray there was a murder allegedly involving former Deputy Director of the Special Security Service, Ashford Pearl and former Director, now Immigration Commissioner Christopher Massaquoi at the home of the latter, but there was no prosecution.

"At the centre of the sad event was a Special Security Service (SSS) officer shot and killed at the home of Chris Massaquoi on GSA Road in Paynesville, but up to present, the two continue to go free in Monrovia and its environs,” the CDC chief scribe noted.

Because the two individuals are confidants of the presidency and members of the ruling Unity Party, according to Gray, the death of the SSS personnel went into oblivion.

Gray maintained that the CDC will stand-by Deputy Speaker Togba Mulbah until the dead end of the matter.
“He is being put on trial because of his refusal to join the Unity Party as requested by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf  on several occasions, and since the last time he rejected such a request, he was told that he would be taught a lesson,” Gray claimed.

The CDC fears manipulations in the trial, considering its political nature.

The Deputy Speaker’s case is being heard by Criminal court ‘A’ presided over by Judge James Zota on eight charges as claimed by the Government of Liberia, including  obstruction of government’s activity by a public servant, preventing arrest and discharge of order and duty, physical obstruction of government’s functions and aggravated assault. Others are Criminal conspiracy, theft of property, hindering law enforcement and criminal mischief.

The decision by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf-led administration to take Deputy Speaker Mulbah to court is against the backdrop of the July 10, 2010 incident in which it alleged that the Deputy Speaker ordered the flogging of Patrolman Lexington Beh of the National Police, who reportedly impounded his truck at a police checkpoint for plying the RIA route without traffic lights.

On the morning of July 11, 2010, troops of the Police Special Unit, led by Deputy Police Director for Operations Al Karley, invaded the home of Mulbah at Fish market to arrest him, but was prevented by UNMIL, some members of the House of Representatives and supporters of the CDC.

 Different Testimonies in Court
The State on Monday, March 21, produced two medical personnel to give accounts into the ongoing trial of Deputy Speaker Mulbah and others at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.
ELWA’s Registered Nurse Louise Dahn and J. Fallah Moses, Medical Doctor at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital testified before Criminal Court ‘A’ giving separate accounts. The J.F.K. Doctor said he saw bruises on Officer Lexington Beh, as testified by previous witnesses. But he said Officer Beh’s uniform was muddy, and not torn up.

Doctor Moses further said that the victim was stable when he was transferred to the J. F. K. Hospital. As for the ELWA registered nurse, she told the court that she did not observe bruises on Officer Beh upon arrival at the hospital initially. A Medical report from the ELWA Hospital says Officer Beh was conscious, but his clothing were muddy and torn up at the time of his admission.

In Lexington Beh’s testimony last Friday, March 18, 2011, he told the court that he could not give account of anything that happened at the checkpoint after he was beaten by Togba Mulbah’s Men on July 10, 2010.
Count one (1) on the defendants’ indictment narrates that they beat Officer Beh and got him helpless before throwing him down unconscious from the pickup which had no license plate.

The Prosecution in its agreement before the court said after Lexington Beh was beaten on July 10, 2010, he was first taken to the ELWA Hospital for medical care, but due to the severity of his injuries, he was transferred to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital where he continued his treatment.

Count three (3) of the indictment also reveals that after Officer Beh was identified to Deputy Speaker Mulbah by the impounded Truck operator that he was the one who had impounded the truck, defendant Togba Mulbah allegedly moved on him and assaulted him before ordering his men to beat him. The situation is reported to have occurred while Officer Beh and three others were on duty, Manning a night checkpoint in the Thinkers’ Village area.